Another Church Sealed Shut in Indonesia

ICC Note: At least one church has been forcibly sealed and another is under threat by Islamic radicals for ostensibly lacking a building permit. The pretext of a building permit is often used in Indonesia by radical groups seeking to forcibly push churches out of villages and cities. 

03/08/2013 Indonesia (Jakarta Globe) – The Banua Niha Keriso Protestan (BNKP) in Bandung, West Java, was bracing for a confrontation on Friday after a group of local leaders demanded the church cease operations, a religious tolerance group said.

The church was told to take down all Christian icons and vacate the building by a small group led by a local neighborhood chief, according to a statement by the Indonesian Committee of Religions for Peace (ICRP).

When church leaders refused to comply, the men promised to return with a larger group, the statement read.

“We are expecting that after the Friday prayers, [neighborhood chief] Haj Ayi, and Samidin and an even larger group will come to the church and disturb it again,” Theophilus Bela, the chairman of the Jakarta Forum of Christian Communication (FKKJ), said.

The threats coincided with the forced closure of HKBP Setu Church in Bekasi, West Java, by the local public order agency (Satpol PP).

Officers shuttered HKBP Setu on Thursday over complaints that it lacked a necessary building permit.

This latest round of anti-Christian actions came weeks after West Java re-elected its Islamist governor Ahmad Heryawan, of the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS.

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